As we move toward a cashless society, the best apps for sending money will play a more prominent role in your daily routine. Most of us no longer carry cash or paper checks. I know find myself using my credit card to pay for smaller and smaller purchases since I rarely have cash on me.
But that can make giving people money difficult. Back when everyone carried cash it was easy to hand your friend $5 to grab you a beer or to quickly split a check.
Now it means money transfer apps. Here are the best apps for sending money to your friends and family safely and without high fees.
How Can I Send Money to Someone Instantly?
Your online bank may let you send money to other bank members for free using their app. Bank mobile apps are the quickest transfer option when your friend uses the same bank as you. But if you’re like me, third-party “digital wallet apps” like Venmo or PayPal are the fastest way to send money to friends with a different bank.
With Venmo, you can send and receive money with no fees.
To send money fee-free you can use your debit card or checking account. If you use a credit card there will be a 3% fee.
It's free to receive money as well, but you'll still need to transfer the money from your Venmo account into your checking account. You can do this for free using their standard transfer which takes one to three business days. If you want the money quicker, you can get it in about 30 minutes but that costs 1%
Our family loves Venmo. PayPal was our preferred payment app for years but PayPal makes it a hassle for the sender to perform fee-free transfers for both parties. Ironically, PayPal owns Venmo.
Also, the Venmo app can be easier to navigate than PayPal.
Potential fees: Senders pay 3% when using a credit card. Recipients pay a 1% fee ($0.25 minimum) for instant money transfers
Person-to-person transfer limits: $299.99 weekly without identity verification. $4,999.99 weekly with identity verification.
PayPal is one of the largest and most well-known digital wallet apps. You may already use PayPal to pay for online purchases or to get paid for side hustle work.
This mobile legend is also one of the best apps for sending money locally or abroad.
PayPal makes it incredibly easy to send money to others in the United States or over 130 other countries. The sender only pays a fee when using their credit card (2.9% plus $0.30).
Be sure to choose the “Friends and Family” setting in the PayPal app so the recipient doesn’t pay any fees. PayPal’s default setting for each transfer is “Goods and Services” that charges the recipient a 3% fee but gives you purchase protection. You’re not buying anything from your friend so PayPal gets free money from this default setting.
You can change the payment type to “Friends and Family” on the final screen when reviewing your transfer details. Making the switch only requires a few button taps. PayPal displays any potential fees the sender pays on this screen as well.
PayPal also offers a “money pools” option where non-PayPal members can contribute to a common cause. This fundraising option is similar to a GoFundMe page but can have fewer fees.
You can also send money directly to a bank account or a local pickup location in over 130 countries using the PayPal-owned Xoom. The recipient doesn’t need a PayPal account to use Xoom and you can start the transfer from your PayPal account.
Potential fees: Senders pay 2.9% plus $0.30 for credit card transactions. The fees can vary when sending money overseas. Recipients pay a seller’s fee when the sender doesn’t do a “Friends and Family” transfer.
Person-to-person transfer limits: Up to $10,000 in a single transaction
Square runs Cash App (previously Square Cash). This app strives to be an all-in-one money app for banking, sending money, and investing.
Like the other apps for sending money, Cash App sending money is free if you use a debit card or checking account. There is a 3% fee if paying with a credit card.
The transfer recipient won’t pay any transfer fees. Moving money from Cash App to your checking account with the standard transfer is free and takes about three days. If you use the “instant transfer” it costs 1.5%.
Cash App reimburses the $2 ATM fees on your Cash Card when you receive a minimum $50 direct deposit each month.
Potential fees: The sender pays a 3% fee when sending money using a credit card. Instant cash-outs cost 1.5% ($0.25 minimum).
Person-to-person transfer limits: Unverified accounts can send up to $250 within seven days and receive up to $1,000 in a rolling 30-day period. Verifying your account increases your limits but Cash App doesn’t publicly disclose by how much.
While Cash App is a good option for sending money, if you are interested in investing here are our favorite stock brokers.
It’s possible to send money to another bank account using Zelle. Many US banks and credit unions use Zelle for free instant transfers. While transfers are free, either your bank or your friend’s bank must offer Zelle so you can send money.
You can initiate Zelle transfers in your bank app (if they offer Zelle) or by downloading the Zelle app.
Most Zelle transfers are instant when both banks offer Zelle. Transfers can take up to three business days when one person’s bank doesn’t offer Zelle.
Potential fees: None
Person-to-person transfer limits: Transfer limits vary for banks that offer Zelle. The weekly send limit is $500 for banks that don’t offer Zelle.
Social media giant Facebook lets you send money for free too. It’s possible to make debit card-to-debit card transfers to others who live in the United States. You can also send or receive money by linking your PayPal account to Facebook.
All transfers are free and only take a few minutes. However, some banks may take up to five business days to complete the transfer.
Facebook doesn’t accept prepaid cards such as Visa Prepaid or reloadable prepaid cards for money transfers.
To send money using Facebook, access Messenger and start messaging the friend you want to pay. The next step is clicking the plus sign followed by the wallet icon with a “$” sign. You can transfer up to $9,999.99 per transfer for free.
Potential fees: None (unless your bank charges a fee)
Person-to-person transfer limits: Up to $9,999.99 per transfer
If you need to transfer money internationally, Transferwise is a powerful option that is inexpensive and easy to use. Transferwise charges a flat percentage rate on transfers (often the lowest you'll see) and can only deposit them into a bank account, so there aren't options to have someone go someplace and pick up cash.
The exchange rate they use is shown on the website itself and guaranteed for a set period of time, so you know exactly how much cash is arriving at the destination when you set up the transfer. This rate will be the current exchange rate at the time you set up the transaction (current mid-market rate), it's not inflated as a way for the company to make money – which is a common tactic for other companies.
Potential fees: Based on the amount being transfered
Person-to-person transfer limits: US residents are limited to $250,000 per transaction per day and no more than $1 million per year.
MoneyGram is a flexible way to send money to friends in other countries.
You might consider MoneyGram’s domestic transfers for local pickups when your friend needs a money order or doesn’t have a bank account. It’s even possible to pay bills for friends and send money to inmates using MoneyGram.
Funding your money transfers with a debit card or checking account is the most affordable option. There is an extra fee if you pay with a credit card.
How much you pay also depends on where you’re sending money to and which delivery method you choose. The cheapest delivery method for most transfers is sending the money directly to one of the 400 banks across the world.
MoneyGram offers these delivery methods as well:
- Mobile wallets
- Debit card
- Local MoneyGram agents
- Facebook MoneyGram Sendbot
Potential fees: Domestic and international transfers start at $5 for the sender
Person-to-person transfer limits: Up to $10,000 per online transfer and up to $10,000 every 30 days, for most countries
If you decide you'd rather send a money order here are the best places.
WorldRemit is a discount app for sending money overseas instead of using MoneyGram or Western Union. You can do every transaction from your phone or computer.
Your delivery options and transfer speeds vary by country:
- Bank account deposit
- Local cash pickup
- Mobile wallets
- Phone airtime top-ups
- Home delivery
Bank deposits are the most common delivery option available. Deposits can arrive within minutes although some bank transfers take up to seven days.
Potential fees: Transfers start at $1.99
Person-to-person transfer limits: Varies
Bonus: Use promo code 3FREE to pay zero fees on your first three transfers
Your Phones’ Mobile Wallet
If you don’t want to download another app, your phone comes with a preinstalled payment app. This app can store your payment and bank information.
However, you may not be able to send money to a friend with a different operating system. Apple Pay works on iPhones but not Android devices, for instance.
Your smartphone arrives from the factory with one of these apps:
It’s possible to send money to friends and family for free by using your debit card or checking account. You will most likely need to use the same payment app to make the transfer. More apps are offering free debit cards that let your friend instantly access their funds fee-free.